The 20 Best Spots For Soft Serve Ice Cream In The US

Soft serve is a quintessential summer treat. The frozen delicacy has similar ingredients as hard ice cream, but soft serve's texture is noticeably different. The slightly lower fat content and extra air gives it a super soft, light, satisfying mouthfeel. But you can only eat so much of it — which is why you'll need to find the best spot for a cone. Sifting through online review platforms and countless personal recommendations can be truly maddening, however. If you want to skip the headache-inducing activities and get straight to the point, which is to consume excellent soft serve while the weather suits it, then you're in luck.

I utilized an array of online reviews, including those on review platforms and message boards, and editorial callouts in regional publications to find some of the best spots for soft serve in the U.S. From there, I narrowed down my selections with personal taste tests at several locations. While the definition of "best" is subjective, the top soft serve spots on this list all offer smooth ice cream with a balanced sweetness in both classic and more unconventional flavors. 

Broadway Dairy Maid in Everett, MA

Boston's summer weather can be unpredictable, but Broadway Dairy Maid is luckily just the opposite. The soft serve joint is open seasonally in the Boston-adjacent neighborhood of Everett and is a staple of the Massachusetts ice cream scene. This spot offers tried-and-true classics with flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and swirl. 

But don't let its basic, traditional options fool you; this spot also offers more adventurous flavors like pistachio, coffee, and banana soft serve. Broadway Dairy Maid sells its generationally revered soft serve at a fair price and is well-known for its prompt, fast service. You can even order a variety of popular menu options, including sundaes and splits, if you aren't a fan of the classic cone.

(617) 389-3433

960 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149

Apple Cart in Cleveland, OH

When a restaurant or dive is listed by regional publications and magazines as a "must-visit," and when online reviewers exalt a place's offerings, you know you've got something special on your hands. Such is the case with Apple Cart in Cleveland, OH. This seemingly nondescript storefront, located a short distance away from the downtown Cleveland waterfront, is actually a treasured ice cream spot. 

Sweltering Midwest summers call for just what Apple Cart provides: top-notch soft serve, no-frills options, and a select few extras like dips, nuts, and fruit. This spot is cash only, so if you're looking for some of the best soft serve in Ohio, stop by an ATM and head to Apple Cart. 

(216) 432-1125

4313 Superior Ave, Cleveland, OH 44103

Honeymee (Multiple locations)

The state of California was called the "land of milk and honey" during the westward migration period, so it's unsurprising to see that one of the state's premier soft serve destinations is Honeymee. You can find multiple Honeymee locations dotting the Los Angeles area.

All of Honeymee's honey products come from a local, certified bee farm, and the milk is also sourced from a Kosher-certified, California dairy farm. Toppings are part of the buzz at Honeymee. You'll find ice cream cups like the yuzu affogato, with yuzu pulp and honey, and the matcha affogato, topped with ceremonial matcha and a thick honey drizzle. The ice cream at this shop is utterly delicious but isn't cloyingly sweet, which adds to the reasons why Honeymee is a must-visit spot.

Multiple locations

Kohr Bros Frozen Custard (Multiple locations)

Some Northeast residents may be familiar with this little regional chain. While Kohr Bros technically serves frozen custard rather than ice cream, it still has that creamy, dairy swirl that's just like soft serve. Kohr Bros started churning out cones in 1919, and has since expanded to Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and New Jersey.

The classics here are certainly worth a stop, namely the vanilla and chocolate vanilla twist options. But those looking for a little something more can sometimes find flavors like black cherry, cool mint, and bubblegum. You may be forking over a bit more money than you would want to spend on soft serve, but I think it's a great deal for the quality cone that you're getting.

Multiple locations

Sweet EMOtion in North Kansas City, MO

Apparently, there's nothing more emo than really good soft serve. Except, perhaps, oat milk soft serve, which is the specialty of Kansas City-based Sweet EMOtion. The restaurant's tagline is: "Sweet Treats and Sad Jams." While you could listen to sad jams virtually anywhere, high-caliber oat milk soft serve isn't quite so common.

Some of the top offerings here include a peanut butter cup soft serve, rotating flavors, and an abundance of vegan (and gluten-free) friendly toppings like nuts, powdered sugar, marshmallows, and several sauces. You can count on finding something new to try every time you visit this locale — as long as you can look past an occasionally steep price point.

312 Armour Rd, North Kansas City, MO 64116

Milk Drunk in Seattle, WA

If you can somehow resist the delicious food at this Seattle spot, including its beloved chicken sandwich, then you'll find yourself face-to-face with an awesome spread of soft serve options. The menu includes vanilla, chocolate, and swirl, plus some farther-out-there flavor combos, like prickly pear, Nutty Buddy, matcha, or my personal favorite, Rainier cherry, which incorporates a fantastic regional ingredient into a tantalizing soft serve base.

Soft serve here can come in a cup, cake cone, or waffle cone, and will set you back at least $6. Tempting toppings like Cinnamon Toast Crunchies, Andes mints, and Rainbow Nerds will likely rack up the total but are well worth it.

(206) 535-7148

2805 Beacon Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

Kurver Kreme in Albany, NY

If you want the best of the best, you have to make the trek to Kurver Kreme. This soft serve joint has been ranked nationally as a top destination for ice cream and soft serve. Like several other locations on this list, this Albany, NY spot is open seasonally.

Long lines move fast here, and its soft serve flavors get high marks across the board. The menu is largely classic style, but there are a few atypical options, like a vanilla yogurt soft serve base, flavors like bourbon butter pecan or cookie butter, and toppings like toasted coconut and Zebra Cookie Crunch. If you're serious about soft serve, Kurver Kreme is where it's at.

(518) 459-4120

1349 Central Ave, Albany, NY 12205

Del's Freez in Melbourne, FL

If fanciness isn't for you, and if you believe convoluted flavor combinations have no business sullying soft serve, then Del's Freez is the joint you've been waiting for. It's been around since 1956 and maintains much of its old-fashioned charm. Flavors at this Space Coast outpost include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, peanut butter, and, of course, twists.

Portions are refreshingly plentiful, and the prices are relatively low. The one drawback to this locale is that you can expect to encounter a long line before you make it to the counter. But at a spot like this, waiting in line to get your hands on a tall, delicious soft serve cone is almost part of the fun.

(321) 254-8381

402 N Harbor City Blvd, Melbourne, FL 32935

Ro-Bear's Snowballs & Soft Serve in New Orleans, LA

Yet another ice cream joint that's served its community for years to widespread acclaim, Ro-bear's Snowballs & Soft Serve has a distinctly regional flair that makes it a worthwhile stop for out-of-towners searching for a sweet bite. You'll likely only find two flavors of soft serve here, chocolate and vanilla, but there are also a few interesting soft serve-based treats on the menu. The Dalmatian, for example, is made with soft serve, whipped cream, and chocolate chips, and the Oreo Crunch is essentially a take on cookies and creme soft serve. 

The snowballs here are famous, as well. This cool treat is New Orleans' version of shaved ice, complete with a drizzle of sweet syrup on top. 

(504) 737-5013

6869 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70123

Like No Udder in Providence, RI

You don't want garden variety soft serve, so head to Like No Udder, a buzzy vegan ice cream spot situated in idyllic Providence, RI. Vegans and non-vegans alike share a deep love of the offerings at this food truck turned brick-and-mortar locale, which has been even called one of the must-visit vegan restaurants in New England

As far as its soft serve goes, there are oat- and soy-based soft serve offerings in both vanilla and chocolate, plus a rotating selection of two other soft serve flavors. The fact that this shop not only offers vegan ice cream, but multiple plant-based milk types to choose from, makes it one of the best places to get soft serve in the U.S.

(401) 228-3880

783 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

Dairy Star in Lincolnwood, IL

The word "legendary" gets thrown around when discussing Dairy Star, the Chicago soft serve outpost with an interesting backstory and utterly delectable dairy treats. Dairy Star began as just another Dairy Queen. Then, over 40 years ago, it broke off and became its own separate business. 

There are three flavors of soft serve here, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, and a laundry list of toppings to dress up the incredibly sound foundation that its core trio provides. These include peanut brittle, coconut, and cotton candy dips. Dairy Star may be located a little out-of-the-way for Chicago residents, since it's situated in Lincolnwood. But a little drive may do you well for truly legendary soft serve.

(847) 679-3472

3472 W Devon Ave, Lincolnwood, IL 60712

Spilled Milk Bar (Multiple locations)

It's no use crying over spilled milk, but the soft serve offerings at Spilled Milk Bar may get the waterworks going for other reasons (joy, nostalgia, the list goes on). The main pull at this spot is teased in its name: its breakfast cereal-infused soft serve flavors.

Spilled Milk Bar's flavors are more elaborate than just soggy cereal. You can get the fried ice cream with corn flakes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch-infused ice cream, or try the Over the Rainbow cone, complete with a Fruity Pebbles and Cap'n Crunch swirl. Bring a big appetite and a craving for nostalgia to make the most of this decadent soft serve experience. With several locations in the Salt Lake City area, it's the perfect place for a pit stop on your way through the region.

Multiple locations

Indigo Cow (Multiple locations)

Indigo Cow may be the best place in the U.S. to get Hokkaido-style ice cream. Located in the northernmost part of Japan's main islands, Hokkaido is home to a special kind of milk that's spurred many delicacies, including Hokkaido-style soft serve. Hokkaido milk has a subtle vanilla flavor to it, and the soft serve there is often ornamented with local fruit toppings and flavors.

So what makes this spot stand out? Indigo Cow is one of the first ice cream shops in the U.S. to import milk from Hokkaido for its soft serve. Typically, it offers only two flavors, Hokkaido milk and hōjicha, a kind of green tea. If you're looking for a Japanese style of soft serve in the Pacific Northwest, this spot should be your new go-to.

Multiple locations

Kreme Delite in Athens, AL

You'll find massive servings of old-fashioned soft serve at Kreme Delite, located along Alabama's northern border in a town called Athens. The walk-up dairy bar has all the old-world charm you could hope for. Besides this, its super-creamy soft serve, relatively low prices, and slow but kind service have won the heart of the community.

The best validation of Kreme Delite? Locals and not-so-local fans have been known to travel from out of town, and travel often, to score its ice cream, and even the Alabama Tourism Department recommends Kreme Delite as an important spot to visit while in-state. Its incredible ice cream and big servings of both dairy treats and old-school Americana make this a classic yet unforgettable soft serve destination.

(256) 232-9130

401 W Washington St, Athens, AL 35611

Banán (Multiple locations)

The paradise that is Hawaii deserves soft serve no less exquisite. Luckily there are many great options across the islands, and one of the best and most interesting of these is Banán, which has multiple locations in and around Honolulu. Its soft serve is all dairy-free and made from bananas. 

Try the açai soft serve or the matcha coconut soft serve swirled up high in a papaya boat. Or, indulge in some banana soft serve drizzled with macadamia nut honey butter. Fresh fruit is a big component of Banán's offerings and acts as the perfect complement to its island-forward flavors. Plus, there's good news for continental Banán fans: It just opened a location in San Francisco.

Multiple locations

CVT Soft Serve Truck (Multiple locations)

The CVT Soft Serve Truck is the business you hate to see go but love to watch drive away. This Los Angeles area sweets-on-wheels business was founded by a bunch of East Coasters who found the soft serve in Southern California to be a little lacking. Its ice cream has met subsequent acclaim.

The soft serve truck now sells bagged soft serve labeled CVT2GO at local grocery stores like Gelson's and Bristol Farms. If you're lucky enough to stumble upon a pouch, snatch it up, as these sell out quickly. Reviewers praise its straightforward menu of chocolate, vanilla, or twist, with a few staple toppings like sprinkles to jazz it up a bit. If you can track it down, it won't disappoint.

Multiple locations

Dang Soft Serve in Denver, CO

Though Denver is no stranger to the delights of ice cream, its soft serve market's biggest name is the one and only Dang. Compared to other ice cream spots, Dang Soft Serve is among the few soft serve businesses in the area with modern and innovative offerings. It offers eight flavors at this time on its menu and swirls them up to the delight of the Mile High City's residents.

The flavors rotate seasonally, but Dang's always offers chocolate, vanilla, and vegan-friendly flavors. Past seasonal flavors have included vegan horchata, banana pudding, cherry almond, kettle popcorn, salted Oreo, and more. Besides its regionally revered cones, Dang also offers a few savory food options that perfectly complement a sweet treat.

(720) 550-8834

2211 Oneida St, Denver, CO 80207

Cruze Farm Ice Cream (Multiple locations)

Quality ingredients and a hands-on approach is one of the potentially key factors in executing excellent soft serve. And that's exactly what you'll find at Cruze Farm Ice Cream. Its multiple Volunteer State locations source dairy from the creamery's Knoxville, TN family farm, using freshly churned milk from Jersey cows to produce next-level soft serve.

The soft serve flavors here rotate, sometimes daily, and in the past have included sweet cream, coffee, gingerbread, Fruity Pebbles, and lavender honey. Cones can be ordered either as a single flavor or a twisted pair, and you'll find toppings such as Oreo dust, toffee, honey, and whip cream. This connection to the craft of the soft serve is one you can taste. If you just can't get enough, Cruze Farm Ice Cream also has take-home dairy and treats.

Multiple locations

Sugarpine Drive-In in Troutdale, OR

Retro-meets-modern soft serve is the crown jewel of Sugarpine Drive-In. Its soft serve is build-your-own style, and the flavors are chocolate, vanilla, and swirl, plus the plant-based flavors coconut-vanilla, orange sherbet, or plant-based swirl. The plant-based offerings are a theme here, as Sugarpine offers innovative, ample, and delicious toppings for both omnivores and plant-based eaters alike. These include crushed peanuts, cardamom-graham crunch, blueberry-lavender sauce, dark chocolate shell, and many more.

Besides callouts in local publications, this spot receives glowing reviews online, with visitors often noting that the soft serve here boasts a spot-on super-creamy mouthfeel. Though the toppings cost extra, the soft serve portions themselves are bigger than you'd expect. No matter your diet, the soft serve offerings at Sugarpine are worth the drive.

(503) 665-6558

1208 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale, OR 97060

Milkcow (Multiple locations)

Milkcow is an exceptional soft serve joint. Hailing from South Korea, and with a handful of U.S. locations, it offers perfect vanilla soft serve, referred to here as Milky Way, with a variety of other soft serve flavors and buildable elements. Guests should try the Dirty Boba, with a sugar cone, brown sugar, and boba pearls. Or treat yourself to an ube and Milky Way swirl. You can then load up your soft serve with syrups like pistachio, espresso, and peach, and toppings such as honey cubes and mango chunks.

The desserts spot offers different Blasts, as well, combining soft serve with cotton candy, syrups, jellies, and more. Despite the abundance of sweet toppings, syrups, and combos, reviewers praise the balanced sweetness and creaminess of Milkcow's soft serve creations.

Multiple locations


Soft serve is no joke. In order to create a list of the best soft serve spots in the country, I cross-checked local recommendations and online reviews (including online review platforms, community message boards, and regional publications), and even paid some of these locations a visit to taste its ice cream first-hand.

From there, it was time to deal with the factors that contribute to both great soft serve and to a spot being a great place for soft serve. The first two considerations were texture and taste. This means finding spots that offer ice cream with smooth consistencies and proffer ice cream with impeccable classic or successfully innovative flavors. Then, the variety of flavors and toppings, price, value, and service were factored in. I also prioritized locations that are deeply rooted in its community. All of the spots that made this list offer nostalgic, creative, or regional charm on top of great soft serve.